Tips for Obtaining a Replacement Social Security Card

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a relatively straightforward process for cardholders to get a replacement document. To get a new card all you need to do is carefully follow the instructions from the SSA and you can have your card quickly replaced.

Here’s what you need to know:

Step 1: Fill out the application

If you visit the Social Security Administration website you can download form SS-5 which is the application for a social security card.

Step 2: Produce Requested Identification

This is done to ensure you are the rightful owner of the social security number for the card being requested. The SSA asks for proof of identity as a preventative so individuals fraudulently attempting to obtain cards with numbers that do not belong to them cannot do so. Showing proof of identity is for your own protection.

Documentation produced must be originals or certified copies in the event an original is not available. Certified means that the copy must has have been authenticated by the issuing agency, a photostat or notarized copy will not be enough.

Step 3: Understand the Correct Procedures Depending on your Status

Since there are slightly different procedures for US citizens and non-citizens in applying for a replacement social security card, it is important to follow the directions that pertain to your status.

US Citizens – Must produce either a driver’s license (or non-driver issued I.D.) or a passport as a valid proof of identity. If these items went missing along with your social security card (for example in the event of theft), you will be asked to show an alternate form of I.D. such as a military I.D., school I.D., employee I.D. or a health insurance card.

Non U.S. Citizens – For non-citizens to obtain a replacement social security card, the process is a bit different. Documentation from the Department of Homeland Security will need to be given and forms the SSA will accept are Form I-551 or I-94 along with an unexpired foreign passport or work permit card.

Immigration forms must be current because if not, this will likely be a hurdle in trying to get a replacement social security card.

Step 4: Send in Application and Documentation

After you’ve completed the first three steps the final step is to send in your completed application and required documentation to your local Social Security Administration branch. You can deliver it in person or mail it.

If you opt to do the latter, the SSA will return your original documentations to you as soon as possible.  If you live in certain regions, you may have to apply in person. Be sure and check the SSA website to see if you fall within these directives. 

It is important to know that if your social security card goes missing, reporting it to the SSA does not protect you from fraud or from someone using your number illicitly. While you’ll quickly get a replacement card, the SSA won’t take any other further action than that.

Ideally it is a good idea to memorize your card and lock it in a safe place. However if your card is stolen or lost, if you follow the above steps can easily get a replacement.